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Staple Remover – Hullbreacher
This last month saw a momentous occasion: the Commander Rules Committee banned from the Commander format. With this announcement, many people are in the unique situation where they want to find a replacement for Hullbreacher in their decks - hence, the existence of this article! If you have a sudden vacancy in the wake of this announcement, I suggest you read on!
aikido effect: an effect that takes an opponent's strength and turns it against them. Turning the strength of card draw into Treasure isn't the only way to create aikido effects in EDH; the most famous example is redirecting damage using , or stealing card draw using effects.has been turning opponents' card draw into sweet, sweet mana advantage all over Commander since its release last November. It's best described as an
As I look for new cards to fill the breach in my deck's hull, I look for cards that fill this same niche, by either removing or gaining an advantage off of my opponents' card draw, thus hindering their ability to gain a large advantage in-game. Of course, since Hullbreacher does this in such an incredible way, it can be difficult to find apt comparisons; as such, I'm broadening my horizons a bit to encompass other colors besides just mono-blue.
is an incredibly powerful card, but it's not like there's no precedent for it. One of the closest analogues to it is , a four-drop with flash that steals your opponents' card draws for yourself. This card has a similar capacity for blowouts to , but generally has weaker synergy with one's own wheels, such as , and the increased cost (and the feel-bads it causes) makes it a lot rarer than .
Instead of stealing or replacing your opponents' advantage, some players like to accrue advantage of their own on top of their opponents'. This is whereand come into play. Both of these cards offer incredible amounts of advantage (in mana and card draw, respectively) whenever your opponent tries to pull ahead in card draw. There's much more redundancy to this effect than people realize, though. More on that later.
Sometimes it's easier to just tell your opponents "stop"., like the already-banned , offers little advantage on its face compared to the aforementioned cards, preferring instead to simply deny advantage to your opponents. In the right playgroup (and the right deck), that can be enough of an advantage by itself.
The sight of these classic cards won't come as a surprise to almost any veteran Commander player. However, there are a multitude of other effects that mirror them, and many deserve some time in the spotlight, too.
Deterrents in the Command Zone
was the first among an increasingly popular sort of card made to punish those who get too greedy with their card drawing. Nekusar is pretty simple compared to the latest iterations; it merely acts as a with attached to it. However, simple can stille be powerful, especially when coupled with effects that force players to draw cards.
is one of many Ikorian commanders that synergize well with wheels. It goes down route, except it creates tokens whenever your opponents draw cards, which you can then attack with, sacrifice, or otherwise weaponize in a myriad of ways. Both also comes with a built-in (and pretty potent) card draw ability, should you ever run out of gas.
My personal favorite in this category is. Very few cards will make fans as sad as this one, as such cards play directly into the hands of Zurzoth. Moreover, it manages to combine the token-creating strategy of with the direct-damage approach of , all while benefiting you for any devilish exploits.
If you're enticed by, but you'd rather have the effect in the 99 of a deck rather at the helm, then you're in luck! There's a boatload of redundancy for the effect. , , , , and the aforementioned are among the many examples of cards that could have a home in group slug decks, or that even break parity of group hug effects. Like , most or all of these cards synergize beautifully with symmetrical rummaging effects like , too.
There's another section of cards that will damage players based on how many cards they have in their hand. The most famous of these areand . You can include a myriad of cards that punish all hand sizes besides your own, making it that much harder for enemies to get the upper hand.
One of my favorite hand-size-hate effects is, not only because the damage is asymmetrical, but because it also draws you cards and helps your opponents get to the point where they take extra damage. All of these effects synergize with damage-multiplying effects too, like or . This entire section of cards works best if you find your games dragging on a bit too long... or if you just have a taste for good ol' Rakdos violence.
Long-time fans of Staple Remover will recognize, as I marked it as one of my favorite replacements for . Well, my love for the card has not yet diminished, as it still serves as a fantastic deterrent against particularly greedy value players. Just find the commander most likely to draw cards (let's face it, probably the Simic player), and stick this on them to force them to either rethink their gameplan or stumble into your mountain of advantage. works especially well if you just love having the right answer at just the right time.
makes a decent impression of in the 99, if you're looking for such a thing. It's not nearly as explosive as Xyris, but you could definitely do a lot worse than an extra three tokens per turn, especially if you need those tokens for any Aristocrats or tribal-based strategies.
Finally, another personal favorite of mine is, a predecessor to mono-red impulse draw. On its own, it reveals information about your opponents' would-be draws to the entire table, and interrupts their planning by giving them a limited window to cast said cards. Additionally, recent commanders like , , and turn into a potent synergy piece.
An Odd Pick, Indeed
(rk post)| Art by
My final pick for today is not for the faint of heart, nor the inexperienced player. I'll call it what it is:is a stax piece, and a bizarre one at that. Some players will simply not enjoy playing against it, and those who are okay with stax might still have a hard time resolving draws while is out, because it gives so much information to inform a relatively simple decision repeatedly throughout the course of a game.
However, if you believe it's suitable for your playgroup and playstyle,can be an impressively potent card. It allows you to control your opponents' hands in a way that suits you while you play around it. You can achieve this by simply playing an additional replacement effect, such as or , or you can simply build around the discard synergy using Madness cards, reanimation, and more.
If you're excited to find some fairer ways to hate on card draw in your games, here's a modifiedEDHREC average deck, loaded with some great draw-based group slug cards to chip away at your opponents' life totals.
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Did you runin any of your decks? Did you find the draw hate to be worth it? If so, what cards are you putting in Hullbreacher's place? I'd love to know in the comments below!